Friday 30 March 2012

The Mars Volta Is Trying To Behave

The Mars Volta are a love or hate band. Some people absolutely adore the band for their unconventional songs, crazy structures, weird timing and insane vocals. Others go nuts listening to just ten seconds of their music. I belong to the first group. It took me some time to get past the wall of noise and hyperactive music but now I can really enjoy it. So I was well prepared when I sat down to listen to their new album Noctourniquet.

The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
I was ready to suck in those crazy structures, timing and vocals. Only to be disappointed after playing the album. Where was the experiment, Omar Rodríguez-López' guitar spinning out of control, the insane squeaks by singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala? They were hard to be found and this sounded pretty boring on The Mars Volta scale. But as with any of their records I should give it a few more spins before making up my mind.

And fortunately it isn't all that bad. The first song 'The Whip Hand' is still showing some of the usual The Mars Volta timing tricks but then things get more "normal". First single 'The Malkin Jewel' is a great rock song that could have easily been on an album by Nick Cave's Grinderman. And that's not a bad reference at all. 'Trinkets Pale Of Moon' sounds like a conventional ballad with a trip hop break beat. 'Molochwalker' and 'In Absentia' sound like normal rock songs at first listen, but do have their own little twists and turns that reveal themselves after hearing them a couple of times.

When compared to the earlier albums this album sounds more like the period after a huge storm. It's still windy but things certainly have gotten more quiet. So you brace yourself for those big blows only to find they are not going to happen. But like any The Mars Volta album it needs a few listens and concentration to grasp the full picture. And it's a relieve to find out that they stay true to their roots but keep everything more in control than usual. Personally I like the big storm better. That's why Noctourniquet is not up there with the likes of Frances the Mute or De-Loused in the Comatorium.

Listen to 'Noctourniquet' on Spotify.

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